A Look at Fargo- Season 4, Episode 4: “The Pretend War”

Trivia: where was the movie Casablanca filmed?

The Pretend War- Ethelrida spots a strange figure on the stairs- Fargo, FX

The episode begins with Ethelrida hard at work one night when she hears a noise. She opens the door and spots a ghostly faced figure sitting on the stairs, causing her to immediately close the door shut.

Well, that was something.

The Pretend War- Zelmare cleans money while Swanee rests- Fargo, FX

We then catch up with Zelmare and Swanee celebrating their ‘successful’ robbery. Well, Zelmare is celebrating. Swanee is straight up dying.

The Pretend War- Calamita ambushed on the road- FX, Fargo

All the while, we follow a truck on the road that’s carrying crates filled with oranges. Turns out this is Calamita, and the truck is brought to a screeching halt as they’re surrounded by a literal ring of fire. Calamita rolls down the window at the sound of a noise as some of Loy’s men approach- each of them armed. Realizing he’s outnumbered, Calamita drops his weapon.

The Pretend War- Calamita surrounded by Loy's men in the ring of fire- Fargo, FX

The driver exits and tries to put up a fight, but he’s quickly taken down. Calamita, meanwhile, lights a cigarette when Leon orders him to exit the vehicle. In Italian, Calamita promises that there’s no where they can go where he can’t find them. One of the men puts his gun to the fire and places it on Calamita’s cheek- holding it there long enough to leave a nasty mark.

Loy’s men take the truck and speed off, leaving Calamita in the ring of fire, but alive.

The Pretend War- Ebal meets Doctor Senator- Fargo, FX

The next day at the diner, it’s Ebal who arrives to meet Doctor Senator this time. Ebal starts, saying that when they first come to America, they know very little, even how to dress. He talks of American values and asks what they really mean. Money? Is it really the land of the free and home of the brave? Then Ebal learned about America’s history in slavery, stealing land from the natives, and that to be an American is to pretend.

The Pretend War- Doctor Senator asks Ebal if he knows about the robbery- Fargo, FX

You pretend to be one thing, but you’re something else. Americans can lie and hide, but the families can’t pretend to be at peace when the’yre really at war. So, Ebal asks Doctor if they’re at war. Doctor’s response? Not yet, but they’re trying really hard. Doctor brings up how some of Ebal’s goons, including the Rabbi, took a shot at Loy’s son, but this is all brand news to Ebal. He also doesn’t know about the robbery, either.

Doctor considers Calamita lucky that he didn’t die, but it seems that Ebal doesn’t know about all the activities going on in his own house these days. Ebal promises to return to Doctor Senator. With that, he leaves.

The Pretend War- Loy tells Doctor Senator to sell some of the guns to Mort Kellerman in Fargo- Fargo, FX

The oranges are brought to Loy’s base of operation as the men start unpacking their spoils of war. Not just oranges, though. Tons of guns as well- 300 semiautomatics included. The Italians aren’t just going into business, but war. Loy orders 200 of the guns sold at cost to Mort Kellerman in Fargo in exchange for devotion. You remember that name, don’t you?

As for the snatch and grab, Doctor notes that Ebal denies the Italians were involved. No one’s smart and dumb at the same time. Doctor figures that the Italians could’ve put the two women up to this, but Loy figures no one’s that smart and dumb at the same time. In due time, the culprits will come back. Meantime, if little Italy comes for Loy’s family again, no matter who is giving the order, they’ll all die.

The Pretend War- Oraetta chokes Josto while riding him- Fargo, FX

Then, Oraetta chokes Josto while riding him. Don’t ask me. Some people get off on weird shit, I guess. When the two finish, Oraetta talks about an article she read on Istanbul. The word just sounds beautiful and Istanbul is where they filmed Casablanca, she says. Though Josto says Casablanca was filmed in Casablanca. Oraetta likes the idea of going away, but Josto has mouths to feed.

The Pretend War- Oraetta and Josto talk about the world- Fargo, FX

Josto’s home is a coffin, as far as Oraetta is concerned. He should get out and explore the world before he dies. Josto mulls over killing Dr. Harvard, and then mentions that he sleeps with one eye open. After an ass slap, Oraetta reminds Josto that they fly elevated. If you sleep with a mouth full of razors, your mouth gets cut. However, Josto now wants some of Oraetta’s powder before he leaves.

The Pretend War- Ethelrida arrives at Oraetta's home to help her clean- Fargo, FX

Before he does, though, he notes that Oraetta left a mark on his neck. As Josto leaves, he finds Ethelrida at the door, as she’s arrived to help out with organizing, per their prior arrangement. After all, Ethelrida still needs the money. Oraetta asks Ethelrida to wait, but Ethelrida is in a hurry and wants to start right now.

The Pretend War- Oraetta instructs Ethelrida on how to help around her home- Fargo, FX

Ethelrida enters as Oraetta arranges her home. She instructs Ethelrida to clean up around the house while she’s gone and even tells Ethelrida where her room is. However, Oraetta cautions Ethelrida away from one specific room. She tells the girl that she can borrow any book she likes. Then Ethelrida asks how much she’s going to be paid for all her work. It’s a fair question. Oraetta considers Ethelrida quite the capitalist.

The Pretend War- Rabbi Milligan tells Josto about the botched hit- Fargo, FX

Outside, Rabbi Milligan meets with Josto and tells him that he’s going to hear some things about a botched hit on the Cannon boy. He tells him all about Calamita’s instruction and the attempted hit. More than that, the Cannon boys saw his face. This is all news to Josto, as he didn’t order a hit. He quickly realizes that Gaetano is giving orders and going around him.

Well, for Josto, it’s a new day. You’re either loyal or with Gaetano. He then instructs Rabbi to find Weff. As for Calamita. Well, he’ll get his.

The Pretend War- Weff and Deafy question a witness- Fargo, FX

Over at the station, Weff and Deafy talk with a witness about the two women who planned and executed the robbery. Deafy asks for specifics, and the man says it was just normal chit-chat, even though he once said the women talked about skipping town. Apparently they were headed to Chicago.

The Pretend War- Deafy offers to pass word onto the Marshals in Chicago- Fargo, FX

Weff figures the two women must’ve flown the copy, but Deafy isn’t so convinced. After all, the U.S. Marshals have offices throughout the country, including Chicago. He can forward word onto his associates there. After Weff escorts the witness out- paying him in the process- he spots Rabbi Milligan, so he claims that he’s got an errand to run with an informant. Okay, so Deafy offers to drive. It’s the least he can do.

The Pretend War- Josto asks Gaetano if he's giving orders behind his back- Fargo, FX

Gaetano and the Italians have found the burned out truck, figuring that the guns were taken, but then Josto and Rabbi Milligan burst in and open fire, with Josto accusing Gaetano of giving orders behind his back. He asks Calamita if he knew about this power play, but Calamita apparently just found out. Gaetano reminds Josto that their guns were stolen and one the Coloreds killed one of their men.

The Pretend War- Gaetano tells Josto that the Coloreds think they're weak- Fargo, FX

Why? Because they think they’re weak. But Justo only considers Gaetano weak. Now his enemies have about 300 guns because of Gaetano’s recklessness. As Gaetano approaches his brother, Josto points the gun at Gaetano’s crotch and dares him to try. Eventually, Gaetano pockets his blade. Well, that ends the meeting of Gaetano’s war council.

The Pretend War- Deafy asks Gaetano where he could get his pud tugged- Fargo, FX

Deafy and Weff arrive at Joplin’s, with Deafy offering to come with Weff. But Weff decides to head in alone just as Gaetano exits. Deafy watches as an angry Gaetano paces back and forth before leaving his vehicle. He asks Gaetano if he’s accepted Christ as his savior before asking if Joplin’s is the place to go if a man wants to get his pug tugged.

The Pretend War- Deafy tells Gaetano and Calamita how Salt Lake City dealt with Italians- Fargo, FX

Calamita exits as Deafy asks about the mark on his face. Calamita cautions Deafy to leave, but Deafy then starts munching on carrots and talks about his history in Salt Lake City. Some Italians there thought they could make money by turning the kids into junkies and whores. The locals dissuaded them with a noose and some horses.

The Pretend War- Josto gives Weff and Ebal their orders- Fargo, FX

Josto and Ebal tell Weff about the upcoming war. Josto instructs Ebal to go to New York, kiss the ring, and tell the folks up there that everything is under control. Also maybe bring back some guys with him. Okay, but what does Ebal say? If he needs men, he’ll need to say what’s wrong. Meanwhile, Josto wants Weff to pull some muscle on Cannon and make some arrests.

The Pretend War- Ethelrida goes into Oraetta's forbidden closet- Fargo, FX

Ethelrida is hard at work, sprucing up Oraetta’s home, but curiosity soon gets the better of her as she approaches the door that Oraetta told her not to enter. She opens it and finds nothing but a closet filed with ipecac, poison, the whole nine yards. The cat knocks over one bottle in particular, but Ethelrida catches it and puts it back. But then she knocks over a shoe box filled with newspaper clippings.

The Pretend War- Ethelrida examines a bracelet and newspaper clippings- Fargo, FX

But not just any clippings- obituaries. She finds a case and, inside, valuables, including a very familiar ring. She matches the name on a bracelet to one of the obituaries and realizes just what she’s come across, but before she can examine further, the phone rings. She leaves the home in a rush, but forgets her notebook is still in the closet…

You would think that if this room is so secretive that Oraetta would have it locked, but whatever.

The Pretend War- Loy confronts Rabbi Milligan about the assassination attempt- Fargo, FX

Rabbi exits a grocery store and is confronted by Loy and his men. Loy, after cutting Rabbi’s hand, asks him if the shooting was a warning or fuck-up. Rabbi claims that he protected Lemuel, but Loy demands to know who is calling the shots. Rabbi warns Loy that he doesn’t want to linger, but Loy reminds Rabbi that the Italians don’t respect him- he’s not one of them. Loy knows all about what Rabbi did to his father.

Loy asks Rabbi what it’s like to kill his own family. He offers that things will be square if Rabbi brings Satchel. Also, Rabbi will get five grand. Rabbi refuses, so Loy warns Rabbi that if anything happens to either of his sons, it will be as if Rabbi killed them. In retaliation, Loy will feed Rabbi to some pigs, but Rabbi at least considers that fair. With that, Loy and his men depart.

The Pretend War- Zelmare takes money out of the bathtub- Fargo, FX

As night falls, Ethelrida looks over one of the newspaper clippings and admires her ring. Meanwhile, Zelmare cleans the money that Swanee no doubt puked all over. I don’t care how much you scrub that money. It’s not gonna smell like money ever again.

The Pretend War- Mysterious figure in room with Zelmare and Swanee- Fargo, FX

Speaking of, Swanee’s condition hasn’t gotten any better. As Zelmare hangs up the money, an unidentifiable figure rises from the tub as it begins to…rain indoors? As Zelmare opens her eyes, the man is gone as Swanee suddenly awakens and…pukes some more.

The Pretend War- Zelmare offers Thurman the money to pay off his debt- Fargo, FX

Zelmare then meets Thurman and asks who made the pie. She then offers him a cut of the money, noting that when Dibrell loves you, there’s nothing she won’t do. Dibrell won’t be happy, but Zelmare is certain that she’ll get over it. It’s better than being dead, after all. Zelmare tells Thurman about the place where they’re staying for two more days until they hit the road, Jack.

The Pretend War- Thurman pays his debt to Loy- Fargo, FX

Thurman takes the money with him to Loy. He prefers to not say where he found the money. At least, not at first. Instead, Thurman talks about his recently passed uncle who left him this money. Yes, this bag of cash specifically. So Thurman offered to pay back that loan as soon as he could. Loy can’t imagine the last time a White man tried to make his life easier, but hey, here’s Thurman.

The Pretend War- Loy smells an odor on the money- Fargo, FX

Seems awfully convenient, don’t you think? Loy stares down Thurman before thanking him for stopping by. Relieved, Thurman stands up, thinking that he was going to be shot. Loy did consider it, so there’s that. When Thurman leaves, though, Loy picks up on an odor…a foul odor. He immediately realizes something is off.

The Pretend War- Thurman tells Ethelrida and Dibrell that they're out of debt- Fargo, FX

Thurman arrives at home in a happy mood as he dances with his wife and daughter. He grabs a drink in order to celebrate what he’s just done: they’re officially out of danger and debt. Never mind how, though! All that matters is that Thurman did it. Dibrell, though, is immediately skeptical and asks what Thurman did. She asks where her sister is, saying that Zelmare did dangerous things to get that money.

The Pretend War- Thurman assures Ethelrida that everything will be fine- Fargo, FX

However, Thurman puts his foot down. He’s not casting stones. Opportunity knocked, but Dibrell again wants to know what Thurman did. Whatever Thurman did, he says that it’s done. Dibrell storms off, but Thurman is confident that this will blow over soon enough.

Oh, naïve Thurman. This is Fargo. Nothing ever blows over soon enough.

Yeah, they may not be at all out war yet, but both sides are trying their damnedest to get there. My gripe last time was the lack of Loy since he’s one of the main leads and leader of one of the two families. So this episode rectified that not just giving us more of Loy, but giving Chris Rock more time to showcase his abilities through showing Loy’s more menacing side.

The Pretend War- Josto and Rabbi Milligan storm in on Gaetano's meeting- Fargo, FX

The Cannon family escalates pressure this week and it’s nice to see their tactics having an impact on the Fadda family. It not only drives up the tension between Ebal and Doctor Senator, who seem to be the only adults in the room, but it drives a further wedge between Josto and Gaetano. More than that, Rabbi Milligan is finding fewer and fewer allies on either side.

The Pretend War- Loy reminds Rabbi Milligan that the Italians aren't his family- Fargo, FX

Threatening Rabbi Milligan makes sense. It’s direct action, for one, but also, Loy knows that Rabbi has a connection with Satchel. He can prey on Rabbi’s guardianship of the boy and point out that Rabbi isn’t really accepted by the Italians. At the same time, Rabbi isn’t welcomed by the Cannons either, more so after his involvement with the botched shooting.

The Pretend War- Rabbi points his gun at Gaetano- Fargo, FX

It bears repeating that Rabbi could be the most interesting character of the season, or at least one of them. He was born into these ongoing conflicts, has to live with the knowledge that he killed his own father, and is now caught up between two sides where, right now, he has no friends on either.

The Pretend War- Rabbi threatened by Loy- Fargo, FX

He stands by his convictions and desire to do the right thing- proving that when he goes to Josto and informs him about Gaetano’s power play. But he also refuses to just hand over Satchel because not how these arrangements work, even though he does care about the kid’s well-being. That alone is more believable than him just giving Satchel back to Loy in order to save his own ass.

The Pretend War- Doctor Senator and Loy ponder who robbed their setup- Fargo, FX

I get why Loy confronts Rabbi, but I wonder why the Cannons don’t focus more on dividing and conquering. They mention many times that there’s internal strife between Josto and his much more threatening brother, so why not start there? Both Doctor and Loy know that Josto is at least somewhat reasonable compared to the reckless Gaetano, so they could appeal to Josto’s sensibilities.

Well, I say that, but can counter my own argument because Josto takes it upon himself to confront and keep Gaetano in place.

The Pretend War- Loy threatens to kill Rabbi Milligan- Fargo, FX

Back to Loy, though, we see how both the assassination attempt and robbery have put him on-edge. He’s more than willing to start a war that he knows he’ll win, even though he doesn’t have all of the pieces put together yet. Like Doctor noted last week, we can’t account for everything, but we can at least try to tip the scales in our favor. Who knows? You may end up with a surprise win.

The Pretend War- Thurman brings money to Loy- Fargo, FX

Such as when Thurman shows up out of nowhere to deliver the money and pay back the loan. Sounds like a win for Loy if it wasn’t so obvious that Thurman was bullshitting him. The lingering odor of vomit didn’t help, either. Even though, as far as Loy knows, the Smutnys weren’t the ones who robbed him, they somehow got ahold of his money, so they’re far from out of the woods.

It’s a bit sad seeing Thurman so optimistic after he achieves what he sees as a win. This is Fargo. There’s no such thing as a clean getaway, especially when you’re one of the people just caught in the middle.

The Pretend War- Dibrell asks Thurman how he got the money- Fargo, FX

Dibrell is at least smart enough to realize that her sister’s actions will only bring trouble, even if Zelmare has good intentions by helping out the family. Look at Dibrell’s face above. That is the look of a wife who knows that you just got into some shit. Still, robbing the Cannons will only come back to bite her in the ass. Hell, it may already have with that ‘creature’ that she and Ethelrida are aware of, whatever it is.

The Castle- Peggy is not impressed by a flying saucer- Fargo, FX

Strange and supernatural stuff is nothing new in this series. We had fish falling from the sky in Season 1, a UFO that didn’t even faze Peggy in Season 2, and that bowling alley in Season 3. Now we have a figure that…well, I don’t know what the hell to call it. But I do think back to what Swanee said about her father having two shadows- one for him and one for the devil. Could this be some form of the devil?

The Pretend War- Oraetta calls Ethelrida a capitalist- Fargo, FX

Or maybe that’s Oraetta’s role, given what we learn about her. From her killing of Donatello, we knew from the start that something was off, but given all the clippings that Ethelrida finds, Oraetta must have been doing this for years. But again, if that room is such a hive for all of her misdeeds, you’d think it would be locked. Even Dexter Morgan knew better than to keep his blood slide trophies in plain sight.

The Pretend War- Ethelrida puts on Donatello's ring- Fargo, FX

There’s something sinister behind that smile, and Ethelrida might be onto something now that she’s discovered Oraetta’s misdeeds. What she’ll do with this information remains to be seen because Oraetta can turn around and claim that Ethelrida broke into her closet without permission. She may do just that since Ethelrida left her notebook in the closet anyway.

The Pretend War- Ethelrida holds Donatello's ring- Fargo, FX

Also, Ethelrida should not have taken Donatello’s ring. That wouldn’t be left in the episode if there wasn’t going to be a payoff, and I’m going to guess that someone is going to catch her wearing it. May God help her if the Italians inquire as to where she got that ring.

The Pretend War- Deafy and Weff question a witness- Fargo, FX

Speaking of the Italians, Weff might be deep in their pockets, but even he can’t shake Deafy off of him. I like seeing the two of them interact, and I enjoyed Deafy’s monologue about how people in Salt Lake City dealt with Italians. That’s the sort of dialogue that gives me a Season 2 vie from this season. In particular, it felt reminiscent of the judge telling Rye the story of Job in “Waiting for Dutch.”

The Pretend War- Deafy eats carrots- Fargo, FX

With what little screen time he’s had so far, Timothy Olyphant has already become one of the standout performers, but he’s Timothy Olyphant, so of course he can make that immediate impression.

Pressure is continuing to grow for the impending war, with internal problems threatening to split the Italians. Thurman giving Loy his own, stolen money is sure to put him in the crosshairs of the Cannons, which could also spell trouble for Zelmare and Swanee. We’ll have to wait and see how things continue to escalate and how other parties are drawn into this ongoing conflict between the two families.

Until then, see you next time.

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